Slimming is a big business in America – worth over $ 60 billion a year. It’s no wonder if one in three Americans over the age of 20 is considered obese and over 70% of the population is classified as overweight.

TV companies and food supplements are aware of this and every year there are new products and TV series devoted to “fast transformations” and “great results”. One of the first such programs was The Biggest Loser. Every season participants with obesity and overweight competed in exhausting competition to see who can lose the most kilos in the shortest possible time.

Participants were subjected to a training regimen and an extreme diet in order to get results for those that can be found on billboards or in press advertisements.

While everything seems to be the perfect solution for them, a new study has shown the long-term effects of such extreme weight loss.


A group of researchers who previously studied metabolic adaptations following extreme weight loss sought to measure long-term metabolic rate changes (RMR) and the body build of The Biggest Loser participants.

To check for any permanent damage after participating in the program, researchers employed 14 of 16 participants from the 8th season of the RMR and changes in body composition were tested 6 years after the end of the program.

To do this, they used dual energy X-rays absorptiometry and measured RMR by indirect calorimetry at the beginning – compared to the end of the 30-week program and then 6 years later. Metabolic adjustment was defined as a residual RMR after correcting for changes in body composition and age.


14 of the 16 cast members of The Biggest Loser took part in the follow-up study. When the program ended, participants lost an average of 58.3 kg, and their resting metabolism (RMR) decreased by an average of 610 calories.

Within six years of the end of the program, participants recovered an average of 41 kg, and their resting metabolism decreased even more, an average of 704 calories below its baseline just after the start of the program!

The study also showed that participants’ bodies produce less leptin, a hormone that helps regulate the level of appetite. This made the participants have to work even harder to refrain from eating.

What does it mean?

Basically, when the series started, participants had a metabolism typical of overweight people, ie they burned the normal number of calories each day. However, under the influence of extreme diet and exercise, their metabolism has significantly slowed down, and their bodies simply stopped burning enough calories to keep them leaner.

Referring to numbers, at the beginning of the program, participants had an average RMR of 2.607 ± 649 kcal / day. At the end of the 30-week program – 1996 ± 358 kcal / day. Ultimately, the researchers concluded that “people who managed to maintain an increased weight loss for 6 years have also experienced greater metabolic slowdown.”

Of course, our metabolism slows down after six years of aging, but not so much! The TV series successfully turned the participants’ bodies into a “hunger mode” – perhaps permanently!

In our opinion

Do not get us wrong, if you are overweight or obese, losing weight is very desirable not only from an aesthetic point of view, but is critical to your overall health. You will live longer, you will be happier and generally feel better by getting rid of excess weight.

The problem is the use of extreme measures and diets such as those in The Biggest Loser. They focus only on the number of kilos that can be dumped and how quickly it can be done. That’s the problem. It’s an American obsession with immediate results!

This study shows that by using a very restrictive diet and extreme exercise, we ruin our metabolism and eventually end up in a worse place than before starting the slimming process.

There are no quick solutions in life, especially when it comes to losing weight. Time and again, the real solution is a moderate caloric deficit with the right amount of exercise. This leads to both long-term sustainable development, greater self-confidence, healthier adaptation of metabolism, and a greater likelihood of maintaining a proper weight permanently.

Discipline, not motivation

As with all the most important things in life, health comes down to mere discipline, not motivation. Motivation leads to stupid ideas, such as a devastating diet.

Look at healthy people from their environment or successful business people. Their motivation can go up and down with the passage of time, but their discipline never goes away. They never stop working, they never stop eating properly. They never stop reading and become better and better. It is simply part of their lives.

In fact, it would be best to erase the word “motivation” from your vocabulary. You do not need it. You need discipline.

If this research teaches us anything, it is that we must stop looking for the fastest and easiest ways in life. If you want to achieve the right results, you must have the right plan, impose the right pace and be disciplined, year after year!

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